SCIO press conference on 'Biodiversity Conservation in China' white paper

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Red Star News:

Recently, the proper response to a herd of wild Asian elephants roaming northward reflects the overall improvements of China's ecosystem and the remarkable achievements in ecological conservation. Wildlife protection requires long-term efforts. Could you give us more details on the work you have done in this regard during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period? What achievements have you made? What are your plans for the future? Thank you.

Li Chunliang:

Thank you for your concern about wildlife protection, which is of great concern to all sectors of society. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have paid close attention to wildlife conservation. General Secretary Xi Jinping has given many important instructions on the issue, and showed great concerns and personal commitment to its development. We have carried out our work in the following six areas.

First, we have promoted law-based administration and continuously improved legislation, regulations and related support systems. China has revised the Law on the Protection of Wildlife twice, and systematically adjusted the list of key wild animals under state protection. On Feb. 1 this year, the State Council announced a revised version of the list. The new list includes 980 species and eight categories of wild animals, among which 686 are terrestrial wildlife with 189 under first-level and 497 under second-level protection.

Second, we have carried out the second national survey on terrestrial wildlife, and have made plans to gradually achieve real-time monitoring for key species, including the Siberian tiger, the Amur leopard and the Asian elephant.

Third, we have protected critically endangered wildlife to prevent them from going extinct. We made advances in artificial breeding technologies, released several species into the wild, and restored and reconstructed the wild populations.

Fourth, we have taken firm actions against illegal trade. Under the principle of "prioritizing conservation, standardizing utilization and strict supervision," the Chinese government has fulfilled its responsibilities, acted proactively, and constantly strengthened law enforcement. The National Forestry and Grassland Administration has worked with 27 other central and state departments to set up a ministerial joint meeting for cracking down on illegal wildlife trade. We organized nationwide actions against illegal hunting, utilization and online trading of rare and endangered wild animals. Recently, we deployed special measures to protect migratory birds in spring and autumn, eradicate criminal gangs, cut off illegal trade chains, and effectively curb the high frequency of crimes against wildlife resources.

Fifth, we initially established and improved a monitoring and control system for epidemic diseases within wild animal communities, and have effectively prevented and controlled epidemic spread.

Six, we have actively participated in international compliance affairs, strengthened international cooperation, promoted cross-border wildlife protection, fulfilled international obligations, and assisted other Asian and African countries with wildlife protection. China has become an important contributor to global ecological conservation. In particular, China has banned all activities related to using or trading tigers, rhinos, their products and ivories. It has also properly handled wild Asian elephants migrating northward. These actions have demonstrated China's image as a responsible major country.

I would like to share some statistics with you, which can also be found in the white paper. Generally speaking, the above-mentioned measures have basically reversed the loss of endangered wild animals, including giant pandas, crested ibises, Asian elephants and Tibetan antelopes. Their numbers are now on the rise. Specifically, the population of giant pandas in the wild has grown from 1,114 in the 1980s to 1,864 at present. The Asian elephant population in the wild has grown from 180 in 1985 to about 300 today. The Tibetan antelope population has grown from 60,000 to 70,000 in the late 1990s to 300,000 now. I visited the Qiangtang National Nature Reserve in Tibet last month, where I was delighted to see large herds of Tibetan antelopes, Tibetan gazelles, Tibetan wild donkeys, and blue sheep. In addition, the wild population of the Hainan Gibbon has increased from no more than 10 in two groups 40 years ago to 35 in 5 groups. The crested ibis population has increased from only 7 in 1981, when it was first discovered, to over 5,000 at present, when both wild species and artificial breeds are counted. The number of white cranes has climbed from 210 in the early 1980s to more than 4,500 today. The population of black-faced spoonbill has grown from more than 1,000 in the early 2000s to more than 4,000 now. China has rebuilt the wild population of the Przewalski's horse and elk, which were extinct in the wild. We have also released a large group of wild animals, such as giant pandas, crested ibises, Chinese alligators, forest musk deer, Elliot's pheasants, and Francois' leaf monkeys.

In the next step, we will continue to implement the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, rescue rare and endangered wildlife in order, and improve the system for biodiversity conservation. We will tighten import and export management and law enforcement, strengthen the monitoring, early warning, prevention, and control of epidemic diseases, and take stricter control measures over invasive alien species. We will actively provide guidance and adopt regulatory measures in handling conflicts between humans and wild animals, and preserve biodiversity and biosafety to make new advances in wildlife protection and achieve harmonious coexistence between humanity and wild animals.

Chen Wenjun:

The last question, please.

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